A mugshot, also commonly spelled as two words “mug shot”, arrest photo or police booking photograph, is a photographic portrait image taken by the police after an individual is arrested by law enforcement. The purpose of taking a mug shot is to allow law enforcement personnel to have a photographic identification record of the arrested individual to allow for identification by victims and police investigators.
The Mugshot Booking and Photograph Process
Most mugshot photos consist of two parts, which include a front-view photo of the individual and a side-view photo of the individual (also called a profile shot). The area captured is usually limited to the upper part of the torso and the face / head. Only one person is photographed at a time, regardless of how many people were arrested in the incident. There are never group photos.
Where did the term originate?
If you’re wondering where the term originated, the term mug shot is originally derived from the word “mug”, which is an English slang term for a human face. Use of the word dates all the way back to the 18th century. The word mug was very popular in mafia-style movies, where unattractive people were often referred to as having an “ugly mug”.
Prior to modern advancements in computer technology and image processing, an accused person was required to physically hold a card in front of them that showed their name, the current date, and other information relative to the individual and/or the precinct in which they were arrested. Digital photography is now used in the mugshot and booking process, and the accused individual does not have to hold the card while the actual photo is taken. The additional information is added to the photos digitally.
After the individual’s picture is taken by the law enforcement officer or processing clerk, the digital identification photograph is then linked to a law enforcement database that contains the identifying information pertinent to the individual and the arrest. This allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies throughout the country to quickly pull up a photo of the individual whenever needed.
Federal booking photographs and mug shots are entered into the public domain in the United States, and can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Open public access is currently being debated in the courts as to whether the photos are considered to be “embarrassing and humiliating information” and automatically associate the photos with “guilt and criminality. In certain special cases, the mugshot for the arrested individual is sealed along with the arrest record.
Famous Celebrity MugShot Pictures
Celebrity arrest photos are by far the most popular type with online searchers. Many movie stars are often arrested in the midst of alcohol or drug abuse binges, and somehow manage to take some pretty surprising and hilarious photos. Following are some of the more notorious and famous celebrity mugshots. In some situations, celebrities were detained and/or incarcerated multiple times, so we chose the one we feel is the best.
New celeb mugs are being added all the time, so be sure to check back for updates. If its one thing celebs know, it is how to get arrested and how to take a great photo.
Where to find mug shots for regular citizens?
If you want to find police booking photographs for public citizens, there are several options. One option is to visit an aggregation site that aggregates the photos from multiple sources and makes them available either via a site search engine or via a navigation directory, usually organized by state. This approach allows the convenience of visiting a single site to conduct your search. The downside is that since these sites are not the original source of the images, they may not always be accurate and up to date.
The second approach is to go directly to the source. To do this, you’ll need to determine who publishes the mugs in the particular area you need to search. For example, in some states, the Department of Corrections handles the publication. In other states, the State Police Bureau offers a searchable database online.
Keep in mind that not all states make the information online, so it is not possible to find everyone who has been incarcerated. Through many of these search sites, you’ll also be able to look up inmates who have been processed through the Department of Corrections.
Also, it is important to note that just because a person has their mugshot online, it does not mean they are guilty.